A Biography of Rosie O'Donnell
Birth Name: Roseann O'Donnell
Birthdate: March 21, 1962
Birthplace: Commack, NY
Occupations: Actor, Comedian, TV/radio host
Quote: "I think I'm very relatable. When I did standup in little clubs in Oklahoma or Arizona, people would come up and say, 'Rosie you're just like my friend, Eileen Murphy' or 'Dorrie McShane'--always the Irish name. Everybody had a sister or best friend like me, and that same non-threatening feeling goes into the show because a lot of women are competitive and our show is more of a celebration." --Chicago Tribune, June 6, 1998
Claim to Fame: Produced and hosted VH-1's Stand Up Spotlight, a half-hour series featuring up and coming comedians (1988)
Father: Edward O'Donnell, electrical engineer; designed cameras for spy satellites; born in Belfast, Ireland
Mother: Roseann O'Donnell; died 1972 of cancer
Brother: Edward O'Donnell; older
Brother: Daniel O'Donnell; lawyer; older
Sister: Maureen O'Donnell; younger
Brother: Timothy O'Donnell; younger
Son: Parker Jaren O'Donnell; adopted; born May 25, 1995
Daughter: Chelsea Belle O'Donnell; adopted; born September 20, 1997
Son: Blake Christopher O'Donnell; adopted; born December 5, 1999
1997: Daytime Emmy: Outstanding Talk Show Host, The Rosie O'Donnell Show
1997: American Comedy Award: Funniest Female Performer in a Television Series (Leading Role), The Rosie O'Donnell Show
1998: Daytime Emmy: Outstanding Talk Show, The Rosie O'Donnell Show; shared award
1998: Daytime Emmy: Outstanding Talk Show Host, The Rosie O'Donnell Show; tied with Oprah Winfrey
1999: Daytime Emmy: Outstanding Talk Show, The Rosie O'Donnell Show
1999: Daytime Emmy: Outstanding Talkshow Host, The Rosie O'Donnell Show
1999: Emmy: Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special, 1998 Tony Awards; shared award
In high school, O'Donnell was voted homecoming queen, prom queen and senior class president, as well as class clown
Won the Star Search comedy competition five times (1984)
Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania; attended briefly
Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts; attended briefly
Above is from
Sign: Sun in Aries, Moon in Libra
Upbringing: Irish Catholic
Mother: Roseann Murtha O'Donnell was a homemaker and president of the PTA. She died of breast cancer St. Patrick's Day 1973 at age 39. Rosie was 10.
Father: Edward O'Donnell is an electrical engineer who designed cameras for spy satellites and currently lives in North Carolina. He and Rosie are "estranged" because she feels he wasn't "really available for his kids." - Entertainment Weekly 7/26/96 "My father is a limited guy. You can't wish someone into being what you want them to be. He was never a parental figure to me." - US 2/98 "The father I have in the show is a lot nicer and a lot more approachable than the father I had in reality. My father in reality is not the affable Irish leprechaun." - TV Guide 6/10/96
Step-Mom: Mary. Rosie gets along with her stepmom "because she wasn't raised in our family and didn't know the rules, so she's communicative." - Knight-Ridder Newspapers 5/31/96
Siblings: Eddie (2 years older), Danny (1 year older), Maureen (1 year younger) and Timmy (4 years younger). "My sister and I are very close; we were born only fifteen months apart. I'm an active part of her life and her children's lives. I'm more separate from my brothers. I think my career is harder for them. They find my lifestyle a little bit of an oddity. And they are forever being asked if they're related to me, which annoys them. One of my brothers said, 'Every time I open a magazine it's your picture!' with sort of an undertone of discontent." - BUZZ Magazine
Children: Parker Jaren: born May 25, 1995 and received May 27, 1995; nickname: BooBoo. "Before my son arrived, I always thought I'd die young, like my mother. Now, for the first time, I think I have something to live for. The dread, fear, doom and gloom has been replaced by love and sunshine. It's hard to put into words. It's like you grow another heart." - Knight-Ridder Newspapers 5/31/96
Chelsea Belle: born September 20, 1997 (weight: 7 lbs, 5 oz; eyes: green; hair: brown fuzz). [An interesting point: A Chelsea Belle is a medium-red miniature rose!]
Why did Rosie adopt?: "If I was with a man I wanted to have a child with, I would have gotten pregnant, but that was not the case.... I really had no ego investment in re-creating myself.... Nor did I feel the need to dive into my gene pool or go fishing there, because there is a tremendous amount of illness in my family, a tremendous amount of alcoholism." - TV Guide 6/10/96
Does Rosie know her kid's birth mothers?: The adoptions of both children were "closed" [she didn't meet with either mother]. "Can you imagine - 'Look who's raising my baby, tonight on Hard Copy.'" - US 2/98
Will Rosie adopt more children?: "I want to adopt another child perhaps as early as next summer [when Parker is 3], and I may want to adopt more after that. I want Parker to be able to look over the bunk bed at his brothers and say, 'Hey, doesn't it suck that Mom's on television?' I want him to have someone who understands... hopefully, his siblings can roll their eyes with him." - Redbook 10/97
Why won't Rosie show Parker or Chelsea's face in the media?: "Parker is not going to be on TV unless he's 18 and that's what he chooses to do with his life. His mom's on TV; he isn't. This business is very corrupting, and I don't want him to be a part of it. As much as I can keep him away from it, I will." - TV Guide 4/5/97
Neices & Nephews: Maureen has three kids: Katie, Julianne & Elizabeth; Eddie and wife Trish have Allison and Ryan; the other sibs have kids too...
Now Lives: Nyack, NY (she bought the Helen Hayes Mansion), NYC (NBC rents her an apartment) and Miami, FL
Height: 5 feet 7 inches tall.
Weight: "As I grew up emotionally, all of the issues surrounding weight that deal with emotions came to the forefront for me. As I became a grown-up, I had to deal with these issues, and with them came weight, because the way that people deal with problems is often with food, which is a symptom of another thing.... [W]hen I read in the newspaper that some radio jock says, 'She's so fat and gross,' it hurts my feelings. I sometimes get out of the shower and think, Oh, boy, I have to do something. And then I have to work hard to stand in front of the mirror after that image goes through, and say, This is who you are, and this is where you are. You're okay in this body, and you're a great, healthy, lovable, and loving person, and go forward with love. And that's what I try to do." - Radience 12/96
Eyes: 2... they're "coffee bean-colored" - US 2/98
Tattoos: On her right ankle, Ro has a band of roses in a variety of colors along with a small cross with a heart on it.
Mom's Death: The death of her mother, at the age of 39 to breast cancer, "was the defining event of my life, and it remains so.... I didn't have a mom growing up, so it's very important for me to be there for my son." - Knight-Ridder Newspapers May 31, 1996 "There is also a lot of denial. The family has been brought up to ignore the elephant standing on the kitchen table. For instance, when my mother died, I didn't even know what she died of until I was 16. They told us she died of hepatitis. Figuring we were little and wouldn't know what that meant. I looked it up, I was in fifth grade, and it said a disease you got through dirty needles. I remember thinking, in a 10-year-old's rationalization and justification, that it was from sewing." - TV Guide 6/10/96
Is Rosie in therapy?: Yes, for over 18 years.
Role Models as a Kid: Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas, Barbra Streisand, Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball, and Bette Midler
Friends: Jeannie "who's a model for the Ford Agency. Very tall, very pretty, very Barbie." - HBO special; Jackie Ellard (best friends since they were 2 years-old); Rita Wilson; Kate Capshaw; Linda Richman (Ro's "surrogate mom") Tom Cruise: Rosie has a "small" crush on Tom Cruise. On September 21, 1996, Ro hosted the American Cinemathèque Moving Picture Ball in L.A. where she met the honored guest of the event, Tom Cruise. Tom planted one (or two) on her for the cameras! On December 10, 1996, Tom finally appears on Rosie's show ("I know that you're just a guy... who's an actor, but somehow you make me really happy"). "My crush on him has nothing to do with anything that is adult. It's a prepubescent girl desire to have his picture thumb-tacked to my bedroom wall. It doesn't have to do with a thirty-five-year-old woman's adult desire." - TV Guide (date unknown)
Barbra Streisand: When her mom was dying of cancer, Rosie thought "If Barbra Streisand's mother had cancer and everyone sent in $1, they'd find a cure." - Good Housekeeping 6/97 "Barbra Streisand was my hero, idol, god, queen." - BUZZ Magazine 8/94
Bette Midler: "Bette Midler is the reason I'm in entertainment today. I owe her my life! I was twelve years old when I saw her on Broadway in Clams on the Half-Shell. I stold ten dollars out of my father's wallet to buy a ticket.... I remember watching her up there on stage and thinking, 'That's what I want to do.'" - McCall's 5/96
Madonna: Ro met Mo while filming A League of Their Own. Rosie watched Madonna at her mother's grave in the docu-film, Truth or Dare, and knew they would be friends. Both women were named after their mothers and lost them at a young age. They have remained close friends.
Roseanne: "We have both learned a lot from our childhood. I look up to her. She faces her demons. Maybe a little too publicly for my level of comfort. But she has done a tremendous service [by discussing her troubled childhood] for many, myself included." - TV Guide 6/10/96
Pets: Two long-haired Chihuahuas named Buster and Valentine and a new German hepard "guard-dog" named Donna.
Political Affiliation: Democrat. "I said this on my show and I thought: 'Uh-oh. I guess there's a reason Dave and Jay never get into their political affiliations; I'm gonna get letters from Republicans about this.' Then I realized: 'What Republicans are watching daytime television? They're too busy tryin' to make more money than anybody else.'" - Entertainment Weekly 7/26/96
Hobbies: Canasta, Scrabble, attending Broadway shows, collecting fast-food kids meal toys
Musical Instruments: played drums in a rock band in high school and keeps two sets in her basement... one for her and a mini-set for Parker (a gift from Tom Cruise!).
Elementary School: In the second grade Rosie made her stage debut as Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz.
High School: Rosie attended Commack South High School class of 1980 where she maintained a B average. She was elected Homecoming Queen, Senior Class President, Student Council Member, Class Clown, Most School Spirited and Personality Plus. Rosie played on several the sports teams as well as played drums in a rock band. She tried stand-up after doing a killer impression of Gilda Radner's Rosanne Rosannadana sketch in a high school follies production.
College: Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, and Boston University [1.47 GPA]. She dropped out at 18.
First Routines: At 16 she performed her first stand-up date when she memorized a Seinfeld routine she'd seen Jerry perform on Merv Griffin. When she was told that you couldn't steal another comic's work, Rosie thought they were idiots because "when you're an actress, they don't ask you to write the movie." - BUZZ Magazine 8/94
Early Stand-up Career: In the early 80's, Ro estimates she was one of about eight women doing stand-up at the time. After her "Jerry Seinfeld" incident, she decided instead to work as an emcee and introduced other comedians while she listened to the various acts and learned the ropes. At 20 she took her act on the road. She performed for very little money and slept in filthy "communal condos" with the other comics - mostly male. Rosie was often frightened at night by the sounds coming from the rooms of the other comics and she would barricade herself in her room at night, pushing a dresser against the door. "When I was a young comic I used to drink a lot. I was like 18 and on the road, and I was scared. All the male comics I was working with were a lot older than me. Instead of going back to the motel to be awake and afraid, I would stay and drink with the waitresses after the show and try to get sleepy. Then when I moved to L.A. and got on a sitcom [Stand By Your Man], a friend of mine said, 'You drink too much, and you've had a lot of alcoholism in your family.' I was so mad. I said, 'Are you implying that I'm an alcoholic?'.... She was a therapist, this friend, and she said, 'I just think you have a problem.' So I stopped drinking totally for 5 years, just to show her I could. And I think it's good that I did, because if I had continued along the way that I was, I seriously feel that it would have become a problem for me." - Entertainment Weekly 7/26/96
"Star Search", 1984 (she won 5 times - with her winnings, Rosie bought caps for her teeth and moved to LA) "Gimme A Break", 1986 (last 11 episodes): Maggie O'Brien, a Boston-Irish dental hygienist Showtime Comedy Club All-Stars, 1988 (Showtime comedy special) VH-1's Stand Up Spotlight (she produced and hosted) A Pair of Jokers: Bill Engvall and Rosie O'Donnell, 1990 (Showtime comedy special) "Stand By Your Man", 1992 - Fox (only lasted seven weeks) Hurricane Relief, 1992 (Showtime comedy special) Women Aloud, 1992 HBO Special, April 1995 The Rosie O'Donnell Show [syndicated]: debuted June 10, 1996 I Am Your Child (special), 1997 Happy Birthday Elizabeth: A Celebration of Life, 1997: herself Voices of Hope (special), October 1997 Elmopalooza, 1997
TV Guest Spots:
The Nanny (10/9/96) All My Children (2/14/97): Naomi, the maid Larry Sanders Show (11/15/95): herself Suddenly Susan (2/97): herself Bless This House (10/11/95): Peggy Night Stand (1995): herself Living Single (1994): Sheri Ren and Stimpy (1994): Head Girl Scout (voice) Ren and Stimpy (1995): head Barette Beret Girl (voice) Bless This House (Oct. 1995): Bert's sister Beverly Hills, 90210 (1996): herself Sesame Street: (dates unknown) Dennis Miller Live (1997) Murphy Brown (4/98): secretary
Movies: "I'm not aspiring to take Meryl Streep's roles. I don't want to do Medea after Grease. The people I relate to are like Vivian Vance. That's Betty Rubble. I see myself as Rhoda, not Mary Tyler Moore." - BUZZ Magazine 8/94
Car 54, Where Are You?, filmed 1990/released 1994: Lucille Toody A League of Their Own, 1992: Doris Murphy Fatal Instinct, 1993: cameo Sleepless in Seattle, 1993: Becky Another Stakeout, 1993: Gina Garrett I'll Do Anything, 1994: Make-up Person The Flintstones, 1994: Betty Rubble Exit to Eden, 1994: Sheila Kingston Now and Then, 1995: Roberta Beautiful Girls, 1996: Gina Barrisano Harriet the Spy, 1996: Ole Golly A Very Brady Sequel, 1996: Cameo Twilight of the Golds [Showtime], 1997: Jackie Wide Awake, 1997: Sister Terry Tarzan, 1998: Terk (voice-Tarzan's best friend)
Broadway: Grease!, 1994: Rizzo. "Just finished doing a broadway show for an entire year. I did Grease. Let me tell ya. It was a childhood dream of mine. And childhood dreams are to be dreamed and not lived. Not that I didn't have fun, but I had no idea what it would take to do the same thing everynight of my life for a year. To do the same thing everynight of my life for a year. To do the same thing everynight of my life..... It was like living in the movie Groundhog Day. Without Andie Macdowell to make it appealing." - HBO special
K-Mart: "I was in Florida for Thanksgiving, and my VCR broke, so I went to the Wal-Mart around the block. It was in the paper: Rosie O'Donnell was at Wal-Mart--the traitor!" - Entertainment Weekly 1/3/97 Prunes: Rosie is the voice in the California Prune commercials!
Nickelodean's Kids Choice Award (1995): Best Actress in a Movie (The Flintstones). Entertainer of the Year (1996): Entertainment Weekly. One of Glamour magazine's "Women of the Year" (November 10, 1996): for "giving us talk without trash." Blistex World's Most Beautiful Lips Awards (December 5, 1996): "Most Talkative" lips. American Comedy Awards (February 1997): Funniest Female Performer on a Television Series. One of the 50 Funniest People Alive (April 1997): Entertainment Weekly. Emmy Award (May 1997): Outstanding Talk Show Host. Nickelodean's Kids Choice Award (1997): Best Actress in a Movie (Harriet the Spy). Emmy Award (1998): Outstanding Talk Show Host (shared honors with Oprah)
Recordings: Rosie did the Grease soundtrack & sings a duet with Elmo on Elmopalooza.
The Rosie O'Donnell Show: debuted June 10, 1996. Her studio used to belong to Phil Donahue. She decided to do show because, during the 23-day shoot of Harriet The Spy in Toronto, "I hardly ever saw my son.... I felt horrible. By the second day, I knew it wouldn't work. This was not the kind of parent I wanted to be.... I want to be the one to put him to bed, to wake him up in the morning, and to be there when he takes his first step and says his first word.... I wanted to find a job in the entertainment industry that could accommodate my desire to be a full-time parent." [source unknown]
Resting on each of the 200 audience seats are a pint of milk (low fat) and a snack-size package of Drake's cakes. The bandleader is John McDaniel (who worked with Rosie on the Broadway show Grease) and band members are John McDaniel, Morris Goldberg, Rodney Jones, Ray Marchica, and Tracy Wormworth.
How did Rosie feel when she won her first Emmy?: Rosie cried so hard because she saw her sister crying in the audience. "I thought, these two little girls from Commack with no mommy and dirty hair in school, look at where we are now." - US 2/98
Organizations: Rosie gives to so many charities, it would be impossible to name them all. She gives a lot of time and money to breast cancer organizations and kids charities. A few organizations she has talked about include Citymeals on Wheels, The Starlight Foundation, Gilda's House and Children's Defense Fund. Rosie also contributes to the campaigns of political leaders she supports.
For All Kids Foundation: Listerine, Mutual of Omaha, designer Tommy Hilfiger and the proceeds to "Kids Are Punny" are some of the earliest major contributors to a charity "clearing house" Rosie founded. For All Kids collects money and distributes it among many deserving charities. You can contribute by making a check out to For All Kids Foundation and sending it to: The For All Kids Foundation, Inc. PO Box 225 Allendale, NY 07401
People Rosie wouldn't interview: "O.J. Simpson and Woody Allen, because I find his relationship with--I want to say his stepdaughter, which is how it's termed in my mind--with Soon-Yi to be morally reprehensible. And I do not believe I would be able to get past it to do an interview that would be anything other than rage-filled." - TV Guide (date unknown)
Books: Rosie has signed a $2-$3 million deal with Warner Books to write her own story, but she has decided not to start on it just yet. "I had a deal to write one, but I will put it off for a while 'cause the prospect is a bit daunting for now." [source unknown]. Also see the books page. Addresses: Rosie O'Donnell Show 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 800E New York, NY 10112 1-212-506-3288 (comment line) 1-212-506-3200 (information) 1-212-506-3288 (ticket info) 1-212-506-3249 (FAX)
Booking agency: International Creative Management 8942 Wilshire Boulevard Beverly Hills, CA 90211 1-310-550-4000 (LA) 1-212-556-5600 (NYC)
Publicists: Susan Geller & Lois Smith Geller & Associates 1-310-859-7661 Internet Resources: America OnLine Site: keyword:ROSIE IRC Chat: Server: DalNet, Channel: #rosie USENET Newsgroup: alt.fan.rosieodonnell On Celebrity: "Mickey Mantle gets a liver, I get a baby, and OJ gets away with murder." - on "Later with Tom Snyder"
What EXACTLY did Donny Osmond do?: On June 14, 1996 Donny Osmond appeared on Rosie's show and called her chubby! Really! Well, here's what Rosie says: "It was the first week of the show, and I don't think he had seen it before. He's on the road doing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I believe that when he came out and saw my albums and my Donny Osmond doll, he thought I was going to ridicule him. I don't think if he were booked on the show now, after it's been on for forty-five days, that he would ever do what he did. Instead of seeing what I was doing as a reverential tribute-which it was, because I honestly do like Donny Osmond and his music, and I did have the doll-I think he thought I was going to be aggressively poking fun at him. So what happened was, I was saying, "Oh, Donny, you have to go and do this dangerous stunt out in Utah, and God, I'm worried about you. You know what, don't you go on that helicopter. I'll go and be your stuntperson. I'll be your double, and I'll do it for you." And he said, "I don't think the helicopter can handle that much weight." So I took a moment and I went "Whoooa!" For a moment I thought, Does he mean me and him together on the helicopter? Or does he mean me separately? That comment became the bane of his existence, because everywhere he went, people were saying, "How could you?" And I didn't let up on it. The next day, I did the show and I said, "Can you believe that Donny Osmond called me fat?" I went out to LA that weekend for a funeral, and there were a lot of people there who had seen the show. One of them was Roseanne, who said, "I can't believe he said that. I saw your face." I think anyone who has ever had weight be an issue in their life felt the pain of having lived through that. He did apologize profusely during the commercial, and afterwards. I don't believe it was necessarily malicious: it was just stupid of him. I think he thought that this would be his shot and that because I'm a comic, I could take it. He came back on the show because we were getting so many letters, literally thousands of them, saying, "I'm burning my albums." He was getting booed onstage, apparently, and I didn't want it for him either. I mean, one stupid comment shouldn't end your career. So we had him come back, and I thought he was a real sport to play along. In the end, it was okay. I don't think he was mean-spirited in the sense of somebody like a Howard Stern, whose agenda it is to be mean and hurtful. I don't think that's Donny Osmond's agenda. I think he was just a little nervous and defensive, and he didn't think." - Radience 12/96
Those Toys!: Parker calls them "Mama toys" and they include the original 1960 Chatty Cathy doll, a Mrs. Beasley from Family Affair, an original Kitty Carry-All doll from The Brady Bunch given to her by Maureen McCormick, and a host of figures from such classic TV shows as Star Trek and I Dream of Jeannie, Donny & Marie, Sonny & Cher, Laverne & Shirley, etc. And, of course, she has close to 3000 fast-food kids-meal toys! And those Koosh Toys were something Ro picked up to play with when she was nervous on the show.
Does Rosie have an official fan club?: YES! The Rosie O'Donnell Fan Club, is the only Fan Club in the world endorsed by Rosie herself! As a member, you'll receive the following: a COLLECTIBLE PORTFOLIO (which includes a welcome letter, a biography, and a membership card); a PHOTOGRAPH Autographed by Rosie; and a one-year subscription to "ROSIE OH!", the exclusive newsletter of the Rosie O'Donnell Fan Club. You'll also be informed of special events, giveaways, and merchandise announcements. To begin your lifetime membership, send your name, complete mailing address (including country), phone number and your check or money order for $19.95 in the U.S. ($29.95 for all other countries) to: Rosie O'Donnell Fan Club Rockefeller Center 666 5th Ave., Suite 288 New York, NY 10103
Favorite Movies: "Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang -- I lived a lot of my emotional reality in films and music, and those were the ones I was drawn to: they had the families I wished I had." - Buzz Magazine 8/94
Favorite TV Shows: Party of Five, Chicago Hope, ER, Rescue 911, All My Children, etc. Oh yeah, and Ready, Set... Cook! Just kiddin'!
Favorite Brady: "Alice - does she count? Or Jan, because she was a middle child and kinda neurotic... like me". - (from private e-mail)
Favorite Jell-o flavor: Lime (same as John McD!).
What does Rosie think about the title, 'The Queen of Nice'?: "I'm not really that nice.... 'Nice', to me, has a connotation of passivity. I'm not passive." - US 2/98
Top Ten Favorite Commercial Jingles (as reprted by EW 3/28/97):
1.ALKA-SELTZER "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is!" 2.DR PEPPER "Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper too?" 3.BUMBLE BEE TUNA "Yum, yum Bumble Bee, Bumble Bee Tuna, I love Bumble Bee, Bumble Bee Tuna..." 4.OSCAR MAYER "My bologna has a first name. It's O-S-C-A-R..." 5.TOYS"R"US "I don't want to grow up, I'm a Toys'R'Us kid!" 6.MOUNDS/ALMOND JOY "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't..." 7.BAND-AID "I am stuck on Band-Aid, and Band-Aid's stuck on me." 8.COCA-COLA "I'd like to teach the world to sing..." 9.CAMPBELL'S SOUP "M'm! M'm! Good! M'm! M'm! Good! That's what Campbell's Soups are, M'm! M'm! Good!" 10.TIC TAC "Put a Tic Tac in your mouth and get a bang out of life."
What else does Rosie want to accomplish?: Rosie wants to organize a "Millionaire Moms Club" to fund a national chain of quality child-care centers. She also wants to direct films.